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Something strange is going on at the Press-Citizen sports desk

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We, as you may recall, have a long-standing disdain for intrepid sports-ruiner Pat Harty. He's a self-important hack with the assholish temerity to ask Bryan Mattison if Kirk Ferentz will ever have a good year again.

So when we found out he'd written a piece on former defensive lineman Vernon Jackson, whose chronic knee problems ended his career before it could get on track, we were worried. Vernon is a bright young man, the likes of whom shouldn't spend a single second around the Harty Party.

Color us shocked, but we've got to be honest... it's good. A fantastic read, actually. Granted, it's not exactly difficult to present such a compelling young man in a positive light, but Harty even avoids easy, pithy tricks like dwelling on the bleakness of Jackson's situation growing up.

Of special note is when Jackson is asked about the Hawkeyes' struggles in 2007:

It hurts Jackson to see Iowa struggling because he sees first hand the investment made by the players and coaches. The Hawkeyes are 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten heading into Saturday's game against Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium.

"The first thing I'd say to fans is they don't know how hard these players work because playing for Iowa is not easy," Jackson said. "I'm talking about lifting (weights) at five in the morning year around. You give up your summers.

We cannot overemphasize our shock; the Harty Party normally affords no mercy or compassion to student athletes, instead opting to question both their athletic ability and citizenship. This is not the Pat Harty we know.

So whether this is a ghost writer, the effects of an inoperable brain tumor, fever-induced hysteria, or even a genuine change in approach from Brother Patrick (wildly unlikely), we applaud it and eagerly anticipate more of the same.

We will, however, keep the Pat Harty Avalanche cannon loaded. In this post-9/11 world, we must forgive, but not forget.

[UPDATE: That didn't take long. Harty slammed a 40 of Haterade for today's article. Fuck you, Harty.]